Influence without Authority

Blog - Authority

Even as leaders, we often don’t actually have the official power to accomplish what we want.  We are tied to other departments, 3rd party organizations, and managers of all shapes and sizes.  One of the hardest things for me to learn as a growing leader was how to get things done without actually have any decision-making power or authority in various areas.

The very interesting thing you learn is that the strength of your idea and usefulness to the organization is probably one of the most unimportant factors in accomplishing a task.  It depends much more on if you communicate the information in a way that makes people want to hear it and the strength of your relationships which determines how much they’re willing to support your idea.

I once had a manager tell me that you should want the outcome of any conversation for that person to want to hear more.  While this is not always possible, it’s a good rule of thumb in trying to get things done.  One savvy trick I quickly learned when working for a very large organization was to send feedback, suggestions, and ideas up through people with influence.  Maybe you don’t have your manager’s ear, but your friend in accounting might.  Sending the idea through your friend rather than yourself makes it more likely to be heard and your friend gets some credit too if the idea is successful.  The truth is, your relationships are much more a key to your success than any ability or knowledge you possess.


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